Thank you to everyone who stopped by to chat and pick up books at MSP ComicCon last week. I have known so many of you since Uptown Girl was in its infancy, long before even the first trade paperback came out…and here we are, at the end of her adventures, together. Talking to so many people about the final book and the last 13 years (or so) is very bittersweet and rewarding at the same time. Thank you for coming and for being there for so many stories.
I am also thankful to have gotten a few emails from those who have read the last book. I am so glad people liked it. In some ways it is a darker book. Some unsettling things happen, a lot changes and…well, characters died. I have never written a death before and it wasn’t easy. How George R.R. Martin does it I’ll never know.
But what’s next? It’s all about The Retros for a while. Of course, the webcomic will continue, God willing, for a long time. I have the next four to five years planned and the seeds for future story lines are all over the current arc, especially the five pages I did last weekend. Things get weird and dark pretty soon.
I have three projects I am working on. One I’ll chat about now, the other two at a later date. One thing I will state is that the goal of these projects is publication. Uptown Girl was a very personal work on many levels and I was always hesitant to shop the books to publishers. Whether or not Uptown Girl was good enough to be published is another story, but that’s neither here or there. I love The Retros, however it is not as personal of a comic that Uptown Girl was. I’ve written before how Uptown Girl stories often mirrored my own life, whether it was falling in love with my wife and giving Ruby a boyfriend or the birth of my daughter and Jack and Diane having their own baby. The Retros isn’t like that. It’s action, satire, humor and to my surprise, social commentary on a few levels. I think The Retros is ripe for other mediums that Uptown Girl wouldn’t work well in.
For example, comic strips. I love comic strips and I was often asked why not try to adapt Uptown Girl to that format. The truth is that it wouldn’t work. If a story was a personal story, I needed the flexibility and space that a comic page would give me. It wasn’t odd to have pages of Uptown Girl and Ruby wandering around a mall for a few pages talking about something that I was thinking about. A four panel comic strip can’t do that. Comic strips are supposed to be funny and/or tell part of a story in just a few panels. I didn’t want to restrict Uptown Girl to a format like that. However, almost two years of The Retros have taught me how to tell parts of a story (and hopefully be funny at the same time) in four panels.
So, my first project in my post-Uptown Girl world is a Retros comic strip. More specifically I am working on a Retros comic strip that I will shop to newspaper syndicates with a goal of getting it into the funny pages. This is a separate project from the current series, however. I am writing and drawing a new, self-contained story that I will use to show editors what this comic strip would be like. I have been reviewing submission guidelines for the major syndicates and most are looking for 20 “daily strips” and some ask for 2 – 4 “Sunday” strips. The Sunday strips are usually a separate storyline from the daily strips since some newspapers purchase the daily strips and not the Sunday strips or vice-versa.
For the past two weeks I have been working on my 20 strips. If nothing comes out of this, I will have a new Retros one-shot to print and sell at conventions, but make no mistake, the goal of this project is to get syndicated, If anyone has any advice, suggestions or recommendations, please let me know.
In terms of the creative side of this project, I am having a blast. It takes place outside of the continuity of the webcomic and features Alie, Lucky, Fly-Girl, Zoo and Sputnik. Even though the team in the webcomic will change members, in my heart these five are the original and I love writing them together. The story is about vampires and will include this little panel I drew years ago:
I am halfway through inking the fifth strip and I am having so much fun. I thought I’d share some pencils and some finished and unfinished panels. Let me know what you think!