A first draft of my first Batman story has been completed. I've come to the realization that, as an independent comic book writer and illustrator, my chances of ever being hired by DC comics to work on any sort of Batman project are remote. Not impossible and definitely not out of the scope of my abilities…just remote, in terms of the circumstances and opportunity that would have to fall in my favor. That being said, I've always been curious about the area of "fan fiction". I've seen books and short films created by independent artists dealing with a multitude of high profile; highly copyright protected materials. Properties from Star Wars and Star Trek to Superman and Batman have had new and exciting stories added to their legacies through the realm of "fan fiction".
So I came to the conclusion that I could kill several bats with one stone. As a lifelong Batman fan I could simply fulfill a dream by writing and drawing a Batman comic. Second, as with a lot of the "fan fiction", the project will be used as a high profile resume piece to possibly open doors for further opportunities, and lastly, what better way to draw more attention to my own independent properties then running Batman up the flagpole (so to speak). The short story comic will be used as a portfolio piece and giveaway promotional item to create a higher profile for myself as a writer and illusrator. Talent and ability just are not enough on their own. Somehow one must find a way to stick their heads out just above the crowd and shout louder than everyone else. This, it seems, has become more difficult than the actual process of creation.
Above you can see concept, illustrations and page layouts all in various stages of completion.
And so my first draft of a Batman comic has been completed. At this point, after this particularly long preamble, I guess you must be wondering what my Batman story is about. Well, in the last few years there has been some online discussion as to what actually happens at the end of Alan Moore's "The Killing Joke" graphic novel. The book is a one issue Batman story in which the Joker tries to drive Commissioner Gordon crazy through a violent attack on his daughter Barbara (a.k.a. Batgirl) that leaves her paralyzed. Grant Morrison, one of comics most significant talents, in recent years offered up his explanation that Batman kills the Joker at the end of the book. You really have to see the last two pages of the story to understand the ambiguity of the situation. Batman tries to reach out to the Joker and in response the Joker tells a joke that infers that he is too far gone to be reached. They both start laughing. Batman puts his hands on the Joker around his shoulder as they both continue to laugh. The panels move off of the characters and toward the ground and then suddenly the laughter stops. The implication is that Batman snaps the Joker's neck….. or, he doesn't. Anyway, discussions began running rampant across the internet debating the ending of the book with valid conjecture supporting both sides of the argument.
And that is EXACTLY what my short story is about. It's the epilogue to "The Killing Joke". I decided to write a short story that explains what TRULY happened after those last ambiguous panels. The working title for my story is "Pulling Punchlines". Progress on the short story will appear within this blog and most likely in the WORK section of this site.
June 10. 2014 - Production has begun on the "Pulling Punchlines" short story. The cover art is nearly completed. I have never actually drawn the cover to a book first. It has always been the last thing I draw, however, this time the idea and the inspiration for the cover came first. As well, working out the cover with iconic characters like the Batman and the Joker gave me a chance to work out the nuances of how I want my version of these characters to look.
July 6. 2014 - Page art and layouts is in progress. The story is written for the most part with only some minor changes to incur. Page one has been completed with only some background work and grayscale touches to add. So far, I am pleasantly surprised and pleased with the results.
October 30, 2014 - It's the day before my birthday and I am approximately 3 pages away from completing the Killing Joke Epilogue short story. Production on the book has, for the most part, gone very smoothly. I'm running only a couple weeks behind my self imposed deadline (which is remarkable in and of itself). More artwork from the book will be displayed on this site as the book nears completion. The plan is to post the pages online to view for free on my site, but also offer printed copies from a limited run as giveaway items. Maybe I'll entice people by giving away a free copy of my Batman short story, if you buy a copy of any of my other original books. I am also going to be looking into having the book converted into a digital format that would also be a free download. More info to come.
January 26, 2015 - The final edits have been completed and the short story is off to the print shop. Finishing the book was a bit of struggle. I had the idea right but the script on the last 4-5 pages just did not read well. I was worried. Worried that I might have to restructure the story. Worried that I might have to redraw pages of art…. after all I did not want to spend too much time away from Miserable Americans. This was just supposed to be a little detour. A small dream to draw and write Batman fulfilled. I did NOT want to make this my life's work. So I attempted to just use the same art and re-script the last few pages. After a couple of anxious days of copying and pasting text…. moving balloons and rewriting, it finally came together. The ending, I feel, is not the best part of the story. A very satisfying feeling indeed.