‘Til something sticks: How My Third Project ‘Torsobear’ Might Turn Out to be a Charm

| February 20, 2014


In this installment of TRENCHES, writer Brett Uren talks about the challenges he’s faced making comics, and a recent breakthrough he’s had with his latest project. He’s also putting out a call for stories on what looks like a fun project. Read on!


Mixing my metaphors aside, the title of this article is a pretty good summation of my rickety indie comics career to date. It’s been nearly a decade from the point I picked up where my childhood left off, with a serious view to creating stories and new worlds. It’s hardly been a success up til now, but things might be looking up.

TorsoBear1Many of the articles from comics pros and semi-pros, here and around the web, detail in hundreds of ways how you can easily be your own worst enemy, making your aspirations impossible to reach.

By and large, I’ve done them all and continue to screw things up on the regular. But things may be about to turn around, because I just got really serious about a bunch of toys.

To make sense of that last statement, I should state right now that the most well-received work of my comics ‘career’ to date is an 8-page short in a free digital anthology released in December. A story starring a teddy bear investigating the scene of a terrible crime.

In the past I’ve created a-too-esoteric-to-be-readable 200 page graphic novel, a modern world fantasy mini comic series that referenced my hometown of Aylesbury (UK) for jokes but narrowed its appeal to a 50 mile radius, and some short stories that were supposed to appear in indie magazines but… well, a lot of indie publications lose their footing on the path to reality.

I’ve been panned harshly in reviews, held up as a paragon of what not to do in podcasts, and articles about worst crowdfunders, and even my more positive bits of press confessed to have been a bit confused as what was going on in my stories, which should have flagged certain things to me.

Strangely, what got me to wake up and smell reality was the response to my first collaboration with a  proper editor. My first pitch to the Outré anthology was rejected, with some critique that was helpful. Structured feedback on a story that I pitched for their second issue cemented something that had been brewing all along.

The only way to make something that other people might actually want is to get involved with and listen to other people.

And it paid off in spades. Downloaded many hundreds of times, ‘Torsobear‘ in Outré #2 has been read more times (just) than all the rest of my comics output combined

>>>Read Outré #2 for FREE Here<<<

Not just that, for the first time a piece of my work has unanimously praised in the press:

‘The best contribution by far (in both art and writing) has to be Torsobear by Brett Uren… It is beautiful, stunning, and haunting. And I wanted more.’ – Max Delgado, Unleash The Fanboy

‘It reads like Raymond Chandler meets Teddy Ruxpin with a generous dose of Robert Crumb and we’d love to see a full series of it.’ – Pipedream Comics

‘The art style and color choices made it feel like a more disturbing and adult Hanna Barbera piece, and the blend of issues such as racism, crises of faith, and horrific crimes with a world of toys resonated with me.’ – Jodi Scaife, Fanboy Comics

On the back of this, how could I not want to expand on the world of Toyburg and Ruxby Bear? But with a day job, comics collaborations now starting to materialize and a baby girl, I don’t have the resources to do it all myself.


So I had to come up with a plan, which seemed plainly obvious given the genesis of the story itself. Anthologies, especially in the indie world are having a true renaissance right now, with many creators I know of and speak to involved in and putting them together. With Torsobear featuring in one, why not put a fresh spin on the detective pulp magazines of old?

Torsobear is set to become a collection of varying hard-boiled crime stories, in a soft plushy world of playthings. All brought to life by a yet-to-be-constructed team of various talented individuals.

I spent some time putting together some guidelines so that contributors could all share and feed into an established world, like adding to a well known franchise. I’ve asked one of the editors at Outré to help with the project, I’ve done extensive research into publishers/crowdfunding/project finance, I’ve set up a website to aid in the hunt for collaborators… and yes, this very article is all part of that push forward. Because after all this time getting it wrong, I’m not going to miss the opportunity to show I’ve learned how to get it right.

If you’re interested in learning about or being involved in a fluffy crime noir set in a city where toys live, then please visit http://torsobear.com

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Category: Trenches

About the Author ()

Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, educator, and publisher residing in Newburyport, MA. He is the writer and co-creator of THE RED TEN, a superhero murder mystery, EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and TEARS of the DRAGON, a swords and sorcery fantasy. Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, which is both a new imprint of quality creator owned titles, and an online community where creators help creators make better comics. Follow him on Twitter @tylerjamescomics, or send him an email at tyler.james@comixtribe.com.

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