On Survival

edited April 2014 in Do The Work
This week, my fabulous printer (Minuteman in Wheeling, ding ding ding) will deliver copies of my newest self-published comic book, SURVIVAL, to me and the other members of my creative team. That's artist Mark Stegbauer and letterer/cover designer Steve Wallace, for those keeping score. It's the first DIY comic I've done with an artist who wasn't mpMann and the longest, a full 20 pages. It's a zombie story, it's a suburban horror story, it's an adventure piece -- and it may make you cry at the end. I'm confident you'll dig it. Mark, Steve and I will be selling it for five bucks at our con appearances this year. I suspect copies will go fast.

But I'm not just writing this today to promote the comic. I wanted to sit down and talk a bit about the creative process, and how SURVIVAL came to be.

Writers regularly are asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" And my answer is the same as most: From the world I see around me. That means TV, the newspaper, movies, people I see on the street, scenarios I dream up in the shower or waiting on line at the bank. Did you know I can't walk into a bank without thinking of how Catwoman or the Joker would rob it? No kidding, I case banks (and other public spaces, too) all the time.

And that's kind of how SURVIVAL got started.

About a year ago, I was shopping at my local Costco store (that's a supermarket warehouse, if you're reading this from Antarctica) and I realized how secure the building is. No windows and the one main entry is covered by a steel overhead door at night. It's a fortress filled with food, sleeping bags, lanterns and batteries, one in which bunkers can easily be set up for internal defense if things go to hell.

In other words, the perfect place to go when the zombies come. And they are coming.

But there are Costcos and Sam's Club stores all over the country. There's something else that makes this particular store perfect for the zombie apocalypse.

It's a few hundred yards from a Home Depot. A not-so-defensible location (lots of windows and doors), but one filled with tools, generators, axes and a variety of other items that would be useful as weapons or equipment in urban warfare.

I notice these things. I think of a story in which these details will become useful. It percolates. And percolates. And percolates..... until one day my daughter hears me tell the story and says, "You ought to make that into a comic book." And I think if what it would be like for a family to flee to my Costco to survive the zombie horde.

My first email is to pal Mark Stegbauer, artist of THE DO IT YOURSELF GUIDE TO SURVIVING THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. A fellow Midwesterner, I know Mark from the con circuit. We've never worked on a comic together, but I know he's got some chops. He's got an art style that's cartoony but also realistic, and I think it would suit this story very well.

He's game. And thus SURVIVAL is born.

Now, I'm a halfway decent writer, but my handwriting is for crap. And I haven't mastered computer lettering yet. So we need a letterer. I ring up Mister Wallace, who's more talented in this department than he acknowledges.  We've worked together before. We've been in the trenches. He signs on without blinking.

And now, within a week or so, the book will be in our hands.

It's something special, friends -- a horror story with heart. I hope you enjoy it.



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