I started drawing what would become the first story arc/season of The Incredible Retros in 2014. Fly-Girl was created by my friend Brian Bastian and myself around 2005, give or take, and some of the other characters were created around 2010. Lucky and Alie were the first, and Zoo and Sputnik came later. It took a while for the series to come together but finally launched on November 16, 2015.
The series was originally done in what was dubbed “The Marvel Style”, referring to the style Marvel Comics used to use, starting in the 1960’s. It was when when a writer (usually Stan Lee) would give the artist (usually Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko) a general outline of a story, the artist would draw it and then the writer would fill in the dialogue once it was drawn. To this day there is a lot of disagreement as to how much credit the writer and artist should get for writing, but I am not going to get into that.
Brian came up with the outline, I drew it, scanned it, colored it in Photoshop and then he and I would get together and he would write the dialogue. We learned a lot working this way. Unfortunately, working in this method wasn’t sustainable. Brian wrote most of the dialogue until around page 50 and handed the writing duties to me. I always wonder how different (and better) the series would be if he stayed on. Brian is a great writer and he’s hilarious. The dialogue he wrote for Lucky’s flashback scene is still the funniest thing I’ve ever read.
Doing a comic that updates five days a week is a pretty intense schedule, considering I wok about fifty hours a week and still need to find time to see my family and to sleep. I don’t have time to look back on my work but getting a book printed kind of forces me to do that.
I was amazed at how the series looked. On almost every page I could see myself learning how to draw, and later, write The Retros. Some of the word balloons are ridiculously large as I wanted to leave room for whatever Brian would write for the dialogue. I should have fixed this in Photoshop but it usually looked kinda clunky when I would do that. If I drew on a tablet it would have been a snap.
One of the biggest things I learned was streamlining the character designs. Sputnik for example:
I take a lot of liberties with Fly-Girl’s costume. For the record, her wings pop out of a backpack, not her actual back.
But I kept forgetting to draw the backpack., but I assure you it’s there. Streamlining her looks better.
I also ditched the fingerless gloves. I like the way they look, but would become distracting if her hands were against a black background:
Lucky pretty much remained the same, but eventually I settled how his hair looked.
Of course, the drawing itself gets better as the series progresses. I learned how to work with a four panel grid, I learned how to work with a square panel that is less than three by three inches. I learned how to pace, how to balance humor and action. It’d be hard to not learn something after 700 pages of comics. Looking back becomes a sort of history lesson.
So, there are panels and pages that make me cringe a little, there are panels in the book that surprise me, there are parts that I completely forgot about, and pages that make me laugh (Brian wrote those).
But I am happy with the book. I’m proud that it exists. I am excited to do more books, I am excited to draw more, I am excited for what’s next.
For you Kickstarter backers, the book is printed and I am wrapping up your rewards. I expect to have them mailed out by the end of the week. For the fans who are attending MSP Comicon and requested you pick up your copy there, I’ll have your books ready for you.
Thank you for your support. Thank you to everyone who backed the Kickstarter, who retweeted the project and joined in the celebration of hitting the goal. Creating comics is lonely work and you wonder if anyone is reading or if anyone cares. This was a wonderful way to find out that people do like this weird little comic.