Back in September of 2010 I had an idea about a comic book series that would take place during the Zombie Apocalypse. In it, a group of people would band together and do whatever they had to do to survive. That’s sort of a given for that kind of story. It’s never “a group of people band together and do whatever they have to do to get to Vegas and see Wayne Newton before he gets eaten”. This story would then branch off in five different directions, with each direction being the result of different decisions being made. At the end of those five directions, the series would end. This got me thinking about stories and zombies, then beer, then back to zombies. I mean, I love zombie stories and I love to draw. It started dawning upon me that I needed to do something. I just had no idea what it was.
At the same time I felt I really wanted to focus on my drawing. I had been neglecting it for a while and I started feeling the itch to do something creative. I was already sketching and putting those sketches on Facebook. My brain started formulating a plan to DO something with the things I was drawing. It just didn’t tell me what it was yet. Then I started thinking about a character.
This guy would NOT be a Ben, he would not be a Rick Grimes, or an Ash. He would just be some guy. This guy would roam the world, trying to survive the zombie apocalypse and running in to all sorts of people, all sorts of groups that ALREADY have their heroes and villains. Each time he would try to fit in, and each time he would have to leave and he would move on in the world. I started humming the theme to “The Littlest Hobo” in my head. If you don’t know what it is, I suggest you look it up. Sometimes the plot would have nothing to do with him, sometimes he would play a key role. The thing that became important to me is that he would almost never be the main hero of the story.
I like to think that’s somebody else’s job.
I decided to start the comic “Stranger”, the title, suggested to me by my friend Chris, co-host of The Talking Dead was locked in as soon as he said it. I was talking to him about not wanting to do anything “… Of The Dead” or with “Dead” in the title. I fell in love with that title. Then the drawings started coming together a bit a time and I posted them on my blog over at renerd.com. I didn’t like the way the plug-in was displaying things and lacked the intelligence to fiddle too much with it so that’s when I moved it over to its own subdomain. I decided to post all the sketches and other things over on a Facebook page and invite people to talk about what I was doing. The impetus for me to do this was just to get BETTER. I just want to be a better artist, and I felt there was no better way to push that than to expose myself to the internet. Wait. That didn’t come out right. What I mean to say it expose my drawing ability to the internet. I am not a perfect being, nor a perfect artist. I felt if I posted my work out there, strangers who see it would comment honestly on what they saw and I could take that and learn from it and just keep getting better. I think it’s working for me.
The main purpose of the first issue is to introduce the main character, and to set up the universe in which all these things are happening. When we first see him he’s running for his life and soon is cornered. He has to make a choice, give up or fight. He chooses to fight and soon all his frustrations bubble to the surface and he accidentally kills a stranger who happens upon him, whose intention is to keep him from being killed by an approaching horde of zombies. He is overwhelmed by guilt and flees after searching the body for supplies. He climbs to the roof of an unfinished building and is flagged down by another person who begs for his help. That’s where issue one leaves off.
Oh yeah, and he might be crazy.