I started illustrating for News Ltd in Sydney and had a couple of ideas for comic strips that I wanted to get into either the Daily Telegraph or the Sunday Telegraph. Kid friendly, naturally. When a proposed revamping of the comic strip line-up was in the air, all the illustrators were asked if anyone had a comic strip that they could try presenting to the editors. I had several (kookabarry being one, as well as a puzzle comic strip that may yet see the light of day), but wanting to make something unique that only our paper would have had me thinking of making a comic strip for kids that was interactive somehow.
I played with some ideas and came up with a premise for a kid's sci fi adventure comic strip that kids could vote on every week from a multiple choice scenario and by majority votes they could dictate where the strip would go.
Great idea! The first hurdle presented itself immediately: The comic section was preprinted by a week or more, and if we DID go through with this, the schedule of turnaround was insane: Kids get the comic on sunday; they have until tuesday morning to vote online or by phone; I draw the sucker up and deliver it by wednesday at the absolute latest, giving the designers just enough time to lay it out in the section and get it printed.
So I quickly ditched the interactive part of the comic and once the initial rush of creating something for the review had passed (as I was to find out over the years- most reviews and revamps of newspaper comic sections are painfully slow or just futile) , I started evolving and developing the sci fi adventure comic strip further.
I originally designed the characters simply, as I'd have to draw them up in a day with little time to get thinks right. After the panic was over, and I no longer had to worry about the screaming deadlines, I liked the designs so much I kept them. Stupid me: I just made everything else around them incredibly detailed.
I kept the dimensions for a sunday comic strip, thinking that it could still be a contender in the future. Also, as it would be an adventure strip, I endeavoured to make every page a cliff hanger, leaving the reader wanting for more. Not easy, but what the hell.
Now to the brilliant news:
Dark Horse Comics want to publish it as a book.
I sent off some samples in 2005 for the New Recruits competition and didn't hear anything for over a year. Figuring it was done and dusted so I forgot about it. I'd also sent samples off to other publishers and newspapers but hearing nothing meant just that, so I just kept jotting down ideas and instead started focusing on kookabarry ( now appearing weekly in the Sunday Telegraph) and other strips while still doing freelance work.
Finally I got an email from Dark Horse that Uncle Silas was first in line for New Recruits if it hadn't been picked up anywhere else yet. So after nutting out some details and telling them that I'd need over a year to produce the 120 page epic, I'm on the case.
120 pages... in colour... I must be mad.