So. This year marks ten years of Uptown Girl. Since the first issue of her comic showed up, many things have happened. I have drawn over THREE THOUSAND pages of her adventures. There was a short film based on the comic, a rejection letter from Cartoon Network for an animated series, a lot of conventions, a lot of traveling, and a lot more. I’ve met a lot of amazing cartoonists because of her, made lots of new friends and collaborated with many talented people. It’s really weird how much of my life has been enriched by a comic book character.
I’m pretty lucky.
I’m a lucky one in a lot of ways. I am lucky the first issue found an audience. A very small one, but enough to encourage me to make a second issue. And a third. I started to get fan mail. Which was weird. I still don’t think of BOB getting fan mail. Uptown Girl got fan mail. Over the course of the six years Uptown girl existed as a monthly comic, as opposed to the now annual graphic novel, I drew 100 Uptown Girl stories. 75 monthly issues, 6 annuals, a four issue mini series, some freebie issues and a few contributions to various anthologies.
After 12 issues, I did an annual. At first I thought the annual would be a retrospective of the year but I didn’t think it was time for a look back. I figured when the time was right, I’d do something. “Maybe after 25 issues”, I thought. Issue 25 came and went. “The 50th issue, for sure”, I thought. “The five year mark will be perfect”, I thought. It wasn’t long after the five year mark I decided to wrap up the monthly series, so I thought I’d do something after the 75th and final issue. But by the time the series wrapped up, I was having too much fun with the first graphic novel to take a break from it.
So I kept kicking the can down the road when it came to a retrospective. By the time the series wrapped up, I had collected the comics into six fat trade paperback collections. Some volumes were sold out and I didn’t really want to reprint them. I wanted to focus on the new stuff. But a lot of new readers wanted to read the old stories. And as a fan of various things, like tv shows and bands, I understood wanting the old stuff. I thought about reprinting all six of the collections with new cover art, as the old collections look boring, but some of the stories I had planned contradicted the older stories in terms of continuity, and I didn’t want to confuse anyone, especially myself.
But as the ten year anniversary was coming, I decided I should do something. I didn’t want to reprint the books that sold out, and I wanted to let people read the old comics if they wanted to. I was also running far behind on the follow up to last year’s “Little Adventures” and I knew I wouldn’t have it ready until 2014. I decided to do “Uptown Girl’s Greatest Hits” and reprint 12 stories suggested by readers. Some stories were a given, such as the first and final issues. Some stories wouldn’t be included such as the issues that featured the Walrus and Mr. Roboto as they were reinvented in “Big City Secrets”. I’m glad I threw the decision to the readers as they picked some great ones that I never would have thought of. I think it’s been enough time passed for me to look at some of the stories and think that I did some good comics without having toooo much of an ego. The line from whatever issue it was “All the magic is on fire!” is still pretty funny.
The title changed a few times. It was titled “SUPERSONIC!” at one point. I don’t know why. Eventually the title changed to “All This Time”. It would feature a framing story written by Brian Bastian. I wanted the book to have a “sitcom flashback” feel to it with the character doing something and then saying things like “Do you remember that time when…” He did a great job and in some ways it is also Brian’s farewell to the Uptown Girl universe. Which bums me out, as the best Uptown Girl stuff is the stuff he wrote. Fun fact: Brian wrote issues 9,10, some of 11, 12 and 13 and many others. After the first few issues I considered handing the writing chores over to Brian and letting him do whatever he wanted. Even if I offered, I don’t think he would have accepted.
Anyway, I finished drawing the framing story a few months back, about 30 pages of new material. This weekend I started to put the finishing touches on the book. Once again the cover is colored and designed by Ben Mudek and did a great job as always.
I had to rummage through the crawlspace for the original artwork. I knew where it was but I haven’t looked at it since I put it there when we moved over three years ago. Here’s a picture of the first 20 issues or so:
And the rest of the series:
So I will be preparing the book to be brought to the publisher this week. It’ll be available in May at Springcon.