10-19-2003, 08:13 AM
Here's a story that I've been working on for far too long. I finally got off my butt and wrote the last issue (I'm still working on some songs that one of the characters wrote) and submitted it to Slave Labor Graphics. Maybe I should have posted this before I sent them anything, but if I didn't mail it in while I had the chutzpah I may have lost my nerve. I couldn't get Yahoo's crappy PageBuilder service to cut and paste my cover letter and synopsis, so I'll just post them here.
Hopefully everything you need to know is in the body of the text, but if not lemme' know.
Here's the URL's:
Character Bio's: http://www.geocities.com/comicbookgeek/driftwoodcharacters.html
8 page Preview: http://www.geocities.com/comicbookgeek/dpreview.html
10-19-2003, 08:16 AM
Oops. Here's the Cover Letter:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am Jim Wilkinson.
Or, to be more specific, Jim is what I most fear I will become. Like the main character in the story you are about to read, I am an artistic person who has been trapped by the financial security that the ďcorporate worldĒ can bring. Iíve spent the last four years working for one of the largest companies in the United States, but through writing this story I have realized just how empty this experience has left me.
When I was younger, Charles Snyder (the closest thing Iíve ever had to a mentor) gave me a piece of advice that he had been given when he was a young man. He told me that if I could live a life without being involved in the arts, I should. A life spent chasing money is so much simpler than a life spent chasing dreams and artistic fulfillment. Unfortunately, it has taken me seven long years to realize that this isnít an option for me.
Iíve never stopped writing or drawing while in the corporate prison Iíve created for myself, but Iíve let that side of who I am be stifled for too long. This is the story of a man that has been lured by the promise that money and our perception of what a good husband and father is into allowing his muse to be suffocated. For Jim itís too late, but this story is my first step toward making sure the same cannot be said of me.
The first four of the five planned issues have been completely written. The storyboards and the dialogue are both in their second draft (I consider the final, printed page to be the final draft as Iím sure Iíll find some minor changes to make along the way). The final issue has been completely storyboarded and scripted and is well on its way toward having the second draft completed. I am taking an approach closer to what screen-writers use in my writing process and have gone to great pains to make sure each scene works visually, thematically, and that it advances the plot while teaching us something about the characters before I commit a single line of dialogue.
The art that has been included is from a preview I put together in March of this year. It is an eight-page story that is actually set between issues three and four with none of the scenes appearing within the series itself. I wrote this because I wanted to have something to shop Driftwood around with, but the first ten pages of the first issue donít feature all of the characters or mention some of the elements that I felt would eventually draw a reader into this world that I have created.
Another reason that I didnít draw the fist few pages of the issue one is because I also had some concerns about character models and possible changes in settings or dialogue that I might make once I have the entire series written and can read it in one sitting. As it turns out, I have made some changes in how I see a few of the characters as I have written more about them and fleshed them out (as you will see in the character sheets that I have included). Iím confident that most of what I have written so far will remain the way it is, but I donít want to tie myself down to any specific scene when I may get a brilliant idea about how to foreshadow an event or change the pacing while Iím revising the dialogue for the last page.
Please let me know if youíre interested in publishing this series. By the time you would have a chance to respond, I should be working making finishing touches to the second draft and writing Melissaís songs. I feel that Slave Labor is a good match for the sort of story that I want to tell, so you are the only company that I have submitted this to. If you feel that you need to see more or have any questions, please donít hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you regarding my submission.
And here's the synopsis I sent them:
After dying in a car accident, Jim Wilkinson returns from the grave so that he can deal with the failure that he believes his life to be. We also follow Jimís wife, Lydia and his daughter Melissa, as they come to learn to live without their husband and father.
The series is planned for a five-issue run with twenty-two pages each for issues one through four and a thirty-six-page count for the final issue. While the series works well in the traditional ďpamphletĒ or ďmagazineĒ format it will also be ideal for the ďgraphic novelĒ treatment. When I was considering self-publishing the series, I had what I believe was an interesting way to distribute the collected issues. Obviously, since this is designed to be a black and white series, the individual pages arenít very large when theyíve been scanned into a computer. Since I usually buy blank CDís for a few pennies apiece, I thought that by burning the entire series onto a disk I would have a cheap and unique way to distribute my story. I realize this has been done before to varying degrees of success (Crossgen has itís DVD program and Maus was released on a CD-ROM a few years ago), but I have never heard of it being done for a small press title. I would include the entire series, the first and second draft of the storyboards, and any other content (such as commentaries, screen savers, mp3ís of the songs that Iím writing for Melissa Wilkinson, etc.) that would fit onto the disk. Since the actual media is so inexpensive, the price point for the CD could be low enough to entice people that might not normally try out an independent comic by someone without a publishing history. Nothing would make me happier than having my own trade paperback or graphic novel to hold in my hands, but this is another option that I think could be worth a try.
We are introduced to Jim Wilkinson, who is treated with disrespect by his boss, his co-workers, and his family. After being forced into completing someone elseís project, Jim leaves work exhausted and careens off the road when a deer jumps out in front of his car. We pick up about a week after his funeral as Jimís wife Lydia, is going through her belongings and boxing Jimís things away. As she reminisces about their life together, her old flame Tony comes in like a circling vulture, trying to worm his way back into her life. In the last few pages, Jim wakes up at the scene of his deadly accident with only vague impressions of what has happened since. After catching a glimpse of his reflection, he realizes that something is terribly wrong.
Issue two starts as Melissa, Jimís only child, ruminates about how disconnected she feels from her father so soon after his death. Her boyfriend Joe arrives and as they discuss the tour that Melissa and his band are going to be leaving on (and that Melissa has not yet discussed with her mother Ė Jim was supposed to help her talk to her mother about it on the night that he died), the familyís cat, Annie jumps out her second story window and disappears into the night. Meanwhile, Jim comes to grips with what he is and decides to end his un-life to keep his family from having to deal with his death twice. He leaps from a bridge into icy water only to find that his body no longer requires the air that he was trying to deprive himself of. As Lydia and Melissa search for the cat, Jim swims to shore only to find Annie waiting for him there.
Melissaís friend, Ray, accidentally leaks the plans for the bandís upcoming tour. Melissa has a discussion about reaching for your dreams while you have the chance (something that Lydia and Jim let pass them by). Lydia decides to let her go, but Melissa fails to realize that the time alone will only deepen her motherís depression. Ray visits Joe and learns that he has no intention of allowing Melissa to perform any of her songs while they are on tour. Joeís only reason for bringing her along is to seduce her. Jim reflects on why he may have been brought back from the dead and what exactly he is and we see a snapshot of how Ray, Joe, and Melissa are dealing with their families and the excitement of their upcoming trip. In the last few pages, Lydia breaks down and calls Tony.
This issue follows each main characterís stories separately, leading to a simultaneous climax of all three tales in the last few pages. As Lydia prepares for her date in silence, Joeís plans start to become more apparent to Melissa and Jim finds himself in front of his boss, Bobís house. Jim blames his boss for his death and we learn that Bob has been cheating on his ailing wife for years (even before she fell ill) as Jim approaches the house in a rage. While in the restaurant, Lydia stares into the distance as Tony talks nonstop about himself. Joe makes a move on Melissa that she cleverly spurns as they arrive at their hotel for the night. As Jim approaches the house, his rage continues to grow as the story breaks into a series of two page spreads with three tiers, one for each character. Joe enters Melissaís room drunk and makes another series of awkward and inappropriate advances towards her, Jim lures Bob outside by causing some commotion in his back yard, and Lydia confronts Tony about the way he has treated his mother (a symptom of how he treats everyone). Joe reveals that he never intended to allow Melissa to perform any of her songs (and makes some comments that lead her to violence), Jim stops just short of attacking Bob when his wife interrupts their altercation, and Lydia causes a scene in the restaurant and storms out. The sequence ends as Melissa comes to stay in Ray and Davidís room. In her anger she picks up Rayís guitar and writes a song about Joe and his betrayal. Tony tries to make up with Lydia, but she has finally begun her journey towards being a person separate from her role as a wife, mother, and former love interest. The issue closes as we hear Bobís wife telling him how much she needs him while Jim hides outside their gated yard, holding his head in despair.
Resolution. After Joe leaves in the middle of the night, Melissa replaces some of the clothes that Joe has ruined at a thrift shop. The three remaining band members decide that while the tour is basically over, they will do one show at a local bar before they go home. Jim wakes up (this is the first time that he has slept since he found himself at the scene of the accident) in the middle of a graveyard and is confronted by his own tombstone. As part of dealing with her past, Lydia visits Tonyís mother (whom she has been close to since long before she and Jim were married). She has Alzheimerís but provides Lydia with the closure that she needs for her relationship with Tony and any guilt that she had for the initial anger she felt towards Jim when he died. During their concert, the band doesnít notice that Joe shows up (a conspicuous pair of sunglasses covering his black eye) and then leaves in disgust and despair. Also in the crowd is a record executive for a small label that approaches them about a development deal after their show ends. In the final scene, Lydia visits Jimís grave for the first time. She speaks to Jim as if he were there, unaware that he is hiding behind nearby. She relates to him everything that has happened since the funeral and apologizes for her anger towards him. She reveals her new hairstyle and tells him about the employment agency that she just visited, taking a first step towards her new life. As Jim comes out of hiding, he has visions of everyoneís future. He sees Bob dedicated to his wife and taking care of her in her final days. He sees Melissa, Ray, and David at their first CD signing. He sees Lydia, happily tending to her garden as spring pulls the flowers from the ground. In his vision, she sees him and they embrace, kissing passionately. We then come back to Lydia, standing alone in the graveyard as snow gently falls to the ground. She is a little bewildered, standing in a pose similar to the one we saw her in when she was embracing Jim. She becomes aware of a sound coming from behind a nearby tombstone and finds her cat, Annie (who had been Jimís constant companion and a foil for his monologues) waiting for her. The camera pulls back as she picks Annie up and we see a set of footprints walking away from the gravesite.
I wrote this tale in a somewhat ambiguous setting because I think that some of the best tales are told in a way that makes you believe that it could have happened next door. The Wilkinson home is located in a rural area, outside the suburbs, but not in any sort of wilderness. I can certainly lock down a specific city and state, but I feel the story is more universal if this is left out.
The most important part of the setting (as it is currently written) is the season. Jim dies on a snowy road in early January. When he comes back to life, a warm front comes through; bringing with it a rain that washes all of the snow away. When he returns to his natural state, it begins to snow again. Winter is often seen as the season of death and depression, and water is a major symbol within the story itself. By throwing the seasons out of whack, Iím showing that nature has (on some levels) been perverted.
Zombies and Poltergeists
So what exactly is Jim? When he returns from the dead, he carries the marks of his accident and embalming. He even wears the suit he was buried in. Does this mean that his physical body has climbed out of the ground? No one but his cat and his boss see him at any point in the story. Does this mean that he is a ghost? While there are hints to what Jim is, I donít spell it out anywhere in the series. This isnít his ďsecret origin.Ē This isnít a story about ghosts or zombies. This is a story about a man who has to come to terms with his mortality after the fact (Iíve often joked that he has post-mortem depression). How he rose from the grave is not important.
One of the decisions that I made early in the conception of this story is that there will be no flashbacks. While the characters discuss the past with each other and with themselves, I believe this is a tale that would only be bogged down in reminiscence if every other page included Jimís memories of his life. I also decided that there would be no traditional ďthought balloonsĒ and that any internal dialogue would appear in captions. I find that many comic book creators over-write their emotional scenes and I wanted to avoid that. There were several places within the story where I actually went back and removed all of the internal monologue because I found that the ďactingĒ of the characters conveyed their emotions far better than anything I could write. This decision also comes from my own experiences in life. When my mother was originally diagnosed with breast cancer last year, there were no fancy speeches. No ruminations on life. All I could do was sit and try to process the one word that kept repeating in my head: cancer. These characters are dealing with matters of similar import and (I believe) would react in a similar way.
This is not a traditional story. Iíve thought about adapting it to other formats, but the more time that Iíve spent with these characters, the more I believe that this is the medium they belong to. As a movie, it could become too internal to work effectively onscreen (despite the fact that we get to hear the music that becomes so important to Melissa). My thought patterns are too visual to do this as a novel. Iím not enough of a musician to write a theme album of music based on the concepts that are discussed. Jim Wilkinson and his world belong in a comic book and, with your help, they will.
Other than the cover that you can see from my main page, that's everything that was in the envelope (other than the SASE, of course).
I already posted the preview in the Sequential Storytelling board, but didn't get many replies.
10-20-2003, 05:49 AM
I'd hv to take a wee while to c&c this, me lad but I will get to it.. I owe at least three now LOL
today was a Looooooooooong day so I hvnt the energy but I will I promise!
again, hellooooooooooooo and welcome!
but Cuddly says he's seen ur work bfr, nice :)
10-20-2003, 08:07 AM
Well, I did give it a quick read-thru, not as detailed as I shld but it's getting late LOL
I do like what u've done and it's obvious u've put your heart and soul into it. Nice one!
I'd like to find out more actually, sounds cool! and Cuddly did like what he had seen of ur stuff so that's always positive for me ROFL.
Why not come and join our exercises, we hv a story round robin thing gng on now and a 'pitch' exercise shld be up soon and more story rounds and other good stuff?
Nice one me lad :) (assuming you are a lad of course).
10-21-2003, 04:27 PM
I just realized that I spelled "please" wrong in the heading. I am such an idiot.
10-21-2003, 08:27 PM
awww Jam, dont u worry abt all that :)
We do that quite often, typos are our nightmare.. just ask Vendetta hehehehheehhehehehee :eek:
Paul Brian DeBerry
10-28-2003, 09:20 AM
the idea reads pretty well and i think SLG would be a perfect fit.
the one thing i did notice is that you might be better served in making this a Graphic Novel.
and please tell me you used your real name when you submitted the story. also did you supply the proper return information on your cover letter.
10-29-2003, 05:26 AM
and please tell me you used your real name when you submitted the story. also did you supply the proper return information on your cover letter.
LOL! Of course I did! I just didn't want to leave it up in a public forum since God knows who might be trolling around in here. Besides, I have to keep some sort of anonymity if I'm going to keep calling people Nazis whenever I lose an argument on here (luckily that never happens ;) ).
Thanks for the info. I've mulled the idea of just doing it as a GN, but I've read monthly comic books for so long that it seems like cheating. It would certainly work under that format, but I did my best to write it so that it would be effective no matter what the publisher decided to do. A bonus is that if this was done as a GN I would only have to come up with one cover.
My other concern about a GN is that nobody know who I am. It seems to me that I could have more potential success selling five $2.99 comics than a single $15-20 one as a new creator. Unless the GN got a lot of buzz it would probably just languish on the shelves, whereas people may try out a monthly comic since it doesn't require the same financial commitment.
Then again, it may not sell no matter what format it ends up being published in. As much as I'd like to make some money off of my ideas, that isn't really what its about. What I want more than anything else is to get to tell this story. And the next one. And the next one.
Paul Brian DeBerry
10-29-2003, 01:21 PM
Originally posted by jamiller98
Besides, I have to keep some sort of anonymity if I'm going to keep calling people Nazis whenever I lose an argument on here (luckily that never happens ;) ).
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