Was going through some of my old materials in order to do some class/podcast prep on the topic of thumbnailing. I wanted to look through how I’ve handled it over the years to demonstrate both how there’s more than one way to do anything as well as how your approach will (and should) change over the years.
And I found this old unpublished comic I did with Tom Root back in 1996. Stranger Things, a Sam Raimi-esque supernatural comedy.
After the initial shudder one always has when seeing their old work, I was struck with nostalgia while looking through these pages. But I was also hit by how much things have changed since the 1990s.
Back then it seemed absolutely essential to find a publisher (and maybe it was, since this story has up until now only been seen by a few of my friends). When we didn’t get any bites, we just shelved it and moved on to the next pitch. But these days we’d just put it out as a webcomic or digital edition and see if it took. It wouldn’t even occur to me to stop with a publisher’s refusal nowadays. Back then it was deemed a failure and put into a folder, only to be looked at every few years when I’m organizing my office or searching for teaching materials.
Not that I’m saying that I think the art in this comic is anywhere near good enough to get picked up by a publisher (though there are a few cute moments in there where I think the kid had his head screwed on right–that was a cool-looking monster in the garage), but maybe the story would’ve been good enough to net an audience had we launched it as a webcomic 10 years later. At least we have that option now, which I sometimes take for granted.
Anyway, here’s the story in its entirety! Use the gallery below or check it out on my Picasa album.
Oh, on a nuts-and-bolts storytelling note, I’m really taken aback at how slavishly I stuck to the grid in this old work. I was clearly emulating Keith Giffen in storytelling style and Erik Larsen in visual style (not successfully, but the influence is clear). The next project I did was a “Manga” for Antarctic Press called Art School Girls, where I learned a lot about playing with composition and paneling. Glad I took that detour.
I glad I saved the thumbnails from this story, too. Just a few pages to show what changed and what didn’t.