In my first TRENCHES column, I discussed the lengthy process involved in putting together my Long Gone miniseries for Markosia Entertainment. Even as I type this, the third issue of that 4-issue series is almost complete.
In this column, just to contrast, I wanted to go over the relatively quick process I went through in putting together my 215 Ink title Breakneck.
Breakneck was an idea that came about through a few other ideas gelling all at once. I had the idea of a single supervillain on the run from every superhero in the world, but didn’t have the rest of the story. That’s a very simple premise, and there needed to be more meat to it. A few other random ideas I had for comic books jumped out at me and I found that I was able to combine a few different things into the story that ended up becoming Breakneck. With the idea in mind, I sat down and started scripting. It was very off the cuff, which, in comparison to the tightly wound narratives I wrote for Long Gone, this felt like a much freer way of writing. I started the story in the middle, and then explained what had happened, and away I went. When I was done, I had a very entertaining 22-page script (a few times I laughed out loud at some of the things I had included), and was now on the hunt for an artist.
The Artist (the ONLY round)
As a habitual member of the forums at Digitalwebbing.com, I decided to take a chance and put out a help wanted ad for an artist. My experience with this type of artist search had never been fantastic, but I had to start somewhere, right? My ad stated I was looking for someone with a unique style, something that wasn’t a basic, generic superhero style. And manoman, did I find that in James Boulton. He knew his style was different, and was very interested in the script. I saw some of his samples, and knew he was the man for the job. An explosive, kinetic style not far removed from Ashley Wood or Bill Sienkiewicz. I knew this was the right style to portray this strange, slightly goofy story I’d written. James dug the script, and started sending me these very intense, fantastic pages almost right away. James is a journeyman, he’s the full package for comic art, pencils, inks and colors. With the addition of the exceptionally talented Matt Brown on letters, we had our three-man team in place and set out to craft the first full issue.
The publisher, Round One
I’d been heavily investigating small press publishers, and happened upon UK-based Com.X comics. With my association with the aforementioned UK-based Markosia, I thought, why not? The United Kingdom had been good to me once, why not a second time? I sent an inquiry email, which was quickly and politely responded to by one of the publishers, encouraging me to send some material to them. Now, James Boulton is a machine, and had finished that full first issue in less than a month. So off went the first full, 22-page issue to Com.X. However, it was right around the time of the New York Comic Con of 2010, so Com.X was quite busy, to say the least, and asked for my patience for them to review the submission. All the while, James, Matt and I kept on, working on the second issue.
Eventually, Com.X got back to me, politely declining the book as it didn’t fit into their publishing plans. So now I was armed with a full art team, a fully completed first issue, work already underway on a second issue, and no publisher. However, things were about to change very dramatically.
The publisher, round two.
Everything came down to Facebook. I had become friends on Facebook with indie creator Stephen Lindsay, the genius creator of the indie hit Jesus Hates Zombies, who had just recently brought that title to a new publisher called 215 Ink. I sent an email to the publisher at 215 Ink, Andrew DelQuadro, who asked to see the first issue. This was maybe two days after the rejection notice from Com.X, and maybe two months into the lifespan of Breakneck. So off went the first issue to Andrew, who emailed me back in less than an hour and said he would love to publish it, and could have it ready to hit Diamond’s Previews magazine in January of 2011.
Needless to say, I peed my pants a little bit and told him I’d have to discuss it with James and Matt, but we were probably (definitely) in. The team was very happy to have their first published works come from an American publisher (as the Breakneck team is worldwide, James is based in Australia and Matt hails from Scotland, and I’m Canadian). This was November of 2010, about two and half months after the first line of script for Breakneck was written.
January rolled around, and the New Year greeted me with my name in print, in January’s Previews magazine. It was one of the biggest thrills of my (semi-)professional career, seeing that solicitation in there next to all of the comics and creators I’d been reading and following for most of my life. It was a validation that all this time, sweat, stress, and energy was worthwhile. Issue 1 was followed up two months later with issue 2, and two months after that came issue 3. James continued to produce the pages at a (pardon the pun) breakneck pace. As I write this, the fourth issue has just been solicited in July’s Previews, and we’ve started discussing the opportunity of a trade paperback collecting the first three-issue story arc, and James is almost finished with the art for the fifth issue of the planned ten-issue series.
Less than a year from first thought to being halfway through the full series. Sometimes you toil for years on something, sometimes the time gets away from you and you’re halfway home. Some fantastic reviews have come of the released issues, which means everyone is enjoying reading Breakneck as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. And on another note, I’d like to (again) give a huge thank you to James, Matt, and Andrew at 215 Ink for making this happen. It wasn’t my first signed publishing deal, but it was my first for everything else, and I count myself immeasurably lucky every day that I’ve been given this opportunity.
Mark Bertolini is the writer of the supervillain series Breakneck from 215 Ink, the sci-fi/noir series Ghost Lines, available through Creator’s Edge Press, and the upcoming Markosia Entertainment mini-series Long Gone. He can be reached via email at [email protected]
You can purchase the first issue of Breakneck right here, powered by Graphic.ly!