Comics Confidential: The Long Road to Flee
In past installments of this column I usually write about all my struggles as a indie comic creator in terms of marketing, selling and pitching a book. What I haven’t discussed much about is the evolution of a comic idea. My new comic series FLEE was released digitally on Comixology last year and in just a few months it’ll be released in print all around the world. The series has gotten it’s share of great praise from critics and fans. What many of you don’t know is the massive struggle and changes this book under went just to get it to the finish line.
Spoiler alert!!! Here’s a little run down on what FLEE is about.
An alien soldier named Flick is entrusted to carry a powerful and mysterious artifact called the Nexus Sphere away from the invading menace known as the Krill. With the help of his snarky robotic ally, Trion, Flick crash lands on earth. The evil Krill follow him to earth, a local human helps our heroes save the world, and a giant epic battle to save the universe takes place on Earth without anyone realizing it. Seems like the typical plot to a number of sci-fi movies right? Here’s the twist! Our alien invaders are smaller than insects. The human characters never actually realize they’re aliens. It’s the aliens who are fleeing for their lives when they encounter giant humans, dogs, snakes and other large earth animals. It’s a comical treat with a ton of action and surprises. I don’t want to give away all the other unique twists to the story, but that’s the basic premise. It’s Star Wars meets Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
So how did I develop the story? It all happened many years ago in high school. While some kids played outside, dated girls or actually had a social life, I was stuck at home reading comics and creating worlds of my very own. My parents didn’t really allow me to play with other kids, so I lived a very sheltered life. Flee actually started out life as a totally different concept. I developed a comic character called ZEEKE. He was an alien prince that came to earth to destroy the humans so his people could invade it. While in hibernated sleep he downloaded all of earth’s film and TV signals into his brain, making him a pop culture beast. I gave the alien chameleon powers and he had a robot sidekick called Tellie. He became friends with a local teen that inherited a small airline. and with his adventures together Zeeke learned that Earth was worth saving and went against his own people to save it from invasion. The concept was a cross between, Freakazoid, the Mask and Invader Zim. He was just one of hundreds of comic characters I created in high school which I put in a large catalogue in my files. I literally created a least a hundred different comic concepts stored away on marble black and white notebooks. I always knew, by hook or crook I’d be a comic creator one day.
Cut to ten years later while just out of Art College and ready to attack the comic world. To my shock no one really came knocking back at my door. I took a 9 to 5 job, got married and went about doing the normal boring life… but that hunger for that old dream still lingered. One day as I went about throwing away some of the stuff in my basement I came upon those old endless comic notebooks I hadn’t touched in years. I my shock I thought most of them were still great. I decided to reused all the designs I did for ZEEKE, changed all the names of the characters and made one major change. I rebooted the idea and changed it to FLEE. I turned the aliens small and by doing that it opened a ton of great ideas. I quickly wrote up a pitch and script. I got an excellent artist with Ed Watson and pitched it to Arcana Studios. To my luck I got a reply a week later.
They were so amazed by the story and really wanted it. I had never published a book before in my life and had no idea on how to mange an art team. Now getting the pitch taken is the easy part. It took nearly 5 years to get the book released. Why you ask? First of all, I had to pay the artist from my own pocket. So what little money I made each week I always put away a little for my little hobby. My artist also had a full-time job so he couldn’t really work on the book full-time either, so that delayed the progress greatly. So in an effort to not have the book take 10 years to finish, I got another artist to help with the slack. All the scenes with the aliens were drawn by Ed while all the scenes with humans were drawn by my colorist, Marc Borstel. There was a point in my life where I thought I’d never get this book finished. In fact I released a 4 issue mini series called DREAM REAVERS in between the making of FLEE. So my first comic work ended up being my second comic project instead. I even started a Kickstarter to try to raise some cash to fund the project and that too didn’t pan out. There were times where I thought, “Why am I doing this?” I never gave up and kept the fight going.
So here I am, over 15 years in development of a simple comic story. I wasted a ton of money on a project that I probably never will make a profit on. In fact, I stopped buying comics to help me save up enough money to finance this project. I keep telling myself, was it worth it? I really can’t tell you if it is yet. I’m just glad it’s over. We made our debut at the New York Comic con last year and we sold a lot of copies, even though our printer printed the book backwards. (That’s a whole other story right there.) We have new printed copies now. This time, printed right. I’ll be appearing at Dewey’s Comic City 13 Park Avenue, Madison New Jersey, on Feburary 20th. I’m planning a couple of signings at a few comic cons this year. You can currently order a copy of the book on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.
Help support my dedication.
You can find out more about FLEE at www.Arcana.com
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