Next year is the ten year anniversary of Uptown Girl. So many things in my life have changed since the day the first issue came out. I was renting a basement and doing comics as a way to pass the time between children’s book projects I was working on in hopes of getting published. These days I am a homeowner and married with two kids. Uptown Girl’s world hasn’t changed that much, thought a lot has happened in her life. She is still a reporter and still goes on weird adventures with her two friends.
Her life may not have changed that much, but her comics sure have. Starting off as black and white comic then moving into original graphic novels was a big leap. Obviously my drawing style has changed, as has my output. Back at the peak of Uptown Girl’s popularity and at the peak of my productivity, I was doing easily 500-600 pages of comics a year. I think I do about half that these days.
But the comics look better. At least they do to me. I don’t look back on my old work very often. When I’ve flipped through an old story in the past, it was usually for character reference so I could see how they looked. But in terms of sitting down and reading a comic in its entirety…forget it. I always meant to, though. I told myself once I started work on ‘Big City Secrets’ I would go back and read the six collections the mini-comics were collected in. But I didn’t.
I wanted to do something special for the anniversary, and like I stated before, I wanted to publish a “greatest hits” collection and keep the best stories in print. The first collection has been out of print for years and many people haven’t read her first story. The new collection would remain in print and those stories would be around forever. When it came time to determine which stories would be in the book, there were a few obvious ones, such as the first issue, the final issue, etc. I was also keen on keeping out the stories that contradict the “new continuity” of the graphic novels. ‘Big City Secrets’ re-imagines the origin of the Walrus and Mr. Roboto, similar to how ‘A Long Forgotten Fairytale’ re-imagines the story of the King of Birds. So those stories, as much as I liked them, were out. I asked for suggestions and received quite a few requests for certain issues. Half of 12 stories in the collection were picked by me, the other half picked by fans. Which was awesome, since a lot of the fan-picked stories were stories I never would have included. So thanks.
It was hard to pick the six I included. I didn’t know which angle I should use. Should I use the stories that are important to me personally, such as the issue where Jack and Diane have their baby? Should I use a careful blend of action vs humor stories? Was I including stories that touched on every “era” of the comics or was I using too many stories from the early days? It was harder than I thought it would be. For a while I thought about upping the story count to 20, or getting really serious and dropping it down to only the best ten.
Although the collection, titled “All This Time” won’t be out until May, I needed to nail down the final story selection as there will be original material in the book between the stories written by Brian Bastian. I am excited that Brian is going to be writing more Uptown Girl. He wrote ‘Big City Secrets’ and a handful of stories in ‘Little Adventures’ but it sounds like this will be a retrospective for Brian as well as he plans on retiring from writing Uptown Girl.
I’m sure I’ll be more retrospective as May approaches, but today I worked on the cover to the collection. This is the line art that I will send off to Ben Mudek so he can work his magic. Obviously the text will be punched up by Ben as well.
And because it was fun, I did a color version as well. It’ll be humbling to see how much better Ben’s final version will be.