Creating Gravestown: 1 - preparation

Thursday at 14.10.10

Here's another widescreen view of the promotional image for our new Gravestown comic - click to embiggen! Drawn by the very wonderful Vince Danks, of course.

I'm going to take you through the process of creating the first issue of our new monthly project, and you're in right at the start of the process as we haven't started yet - the hard work begins on Monday, so let's look at how we arrived at this stage and where we go from here. Hopefully this'll give you some insight into how a comic gets from our heads and into your local comic shop, whilst at the same time documenting what we hope will be the start of a terrific new series that you'll come to love - fingers crossed!

A little context: why aren't we doing Book Three of Harker?

As mentioned in earlier posts, Harker is currently temporarily held up whilst we negotiate a book deal. Once the deal is in place we'll be back to work with our two detectives, but in the meantime we were missing producing a monthly comic, and had the choice of two projects I've been developing: Mad Girl or Gravestown. We'll be doing both eventually (and obviously returning to Harker too), but Vince chose Gravestown as the one he wanted to get his teeth into first.

Where did the idea originate?
The basic environment of Gravestown has been in my head for at least 20 years, originally used as a venue for role playing games run with a small group of friends (including Vince). When Vince began to self-publish his Sapphire series I developed the idea into a comic, of which one issue was published about ten years ago. It was written and drawn by me, with huge art contributions by the very talented Mark Wayne Barrett. We did make a start on issue two, but didn't get very far.

To the left is the cover to the unpublished issue two, but after this it languished for some time as a project I always hoped to return to. Three or four years later the concept reappeared as an unpublished (and ultimately unfinished) children's novel, and was then completely revamped two years ago for a full length adult novel.

It still didn't feel right. The project was crying out to be a comic, but I knew I just didn't have the skill to be able to draw it and do it justice. With each new version the concept had grown and new ideas had come in, and I needed an artist with real talent and bagloads of skill and enthusiasm. Oh look - there's Vince!

What stage are we at now?
We're right at the start of the process. Vince and I had our first creative summit this week (at The Dormouse in York, our regular venue for such sessions) at which Vinnie suggested we produce it as an ongoing monthly comic, and I immediately agreed. I adore working to a tight schedule, it gives me a huge buzz, and I immediately welcomed the chance and said yes before Vinnie had the chance to change his mind. Vince had already made copious notes (which tallied up with my own ideas) and had produced a few character sketches and the gorgeous test piece at the top of this post. He'd also worked out a monthly schedule (as he has done previously for Harker), so we'd know where we needed to be each day in order to get the comic out on time. Clearly I wanted to get straight to it.

This weekend we're in Birmingham for the BICS comic convention, and as we've done previously we'll be using our time there to flesh out the basic concepts of the comic and the characters and come up with a rip-roaring first book that'll hopefully leave you eager for more. I have enough for the first two issues, but at the moment everything I have planned is in flux, waiting for Vince to throw his own ideas in and turn it into something new and wonderful. So the hard work this weekend will be pulling that together and plotting a first six issue arc with Vince, with a beginning, a middle and an end and lots of lovely cliffhangers along the way.

All being well, I'll be able to report back on Sunday evening with the results of these plotting sessions, because the real work on Issue One starts on Monday! If all goes to schedule (and we're very strict on this), the first issue will be complete, including the cover, this time next month. We'll then pass that to Diamond, secure distribution and we're off and running.

By the time Issue One arrives in the comic shops somewhere around February next year we'll be working on Issue Four, so expect lots of updates in here and art previews before the first issue hits the streets. We're going to be promoting the heck out of Gravestown because we think you're going to really love it - more to follow in the after-BICS post on Sunday when I'll be revealing a little more about just what the series is about, and taking you through the way Vince and I co-plot...


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