Part 1, The Next Three Years Of My Life: [link]
Part 2, Sell That Damn Book, Danny: [link]
Part 3, I Was Not Ready For This: [link]
Part 4, Objective: Character and Story Building: [link]
PART 5:THE FAMILY
The first thing I had to do was create a sample. What would the pages look like? What is a Killbook?
In the story, before Gabriel breaks out of Level-9, he is introduced to an "Agent-O, a character that gives Gabriel the documents needed to begin this revenge quest. Inside of the documents are bios and information on all of the characters Gabriel will meet/team-up with/or kill.
Well, I didn't just want to show boring documents, I wanted to add life to it. So I came up with the idea of presenting it as Gabriel's scrapbook, as if he was putting it together for a publisher to then design a book out of it.
It would be sloppy, messy, unorganized. Blood would be here or there, little notes by Gabriel and so forth. I did a few rough versions of what I wanted it to feel like. Tried new approaches, different design schemes.
But the idea that stuck with me the most was purely: a pissed off bounty hunter, buying a bunch of art supplies, and sitting at home making his own little book.
That's where the voice and personality came in. The book was no longer just documents, it was turning into a world building device.
I pitched the idea to Stephan, asking: "What if you could discover all of the X-Men before you read Issue 1? You get a behind the scenes look at WHAT they can do, WHO they are, and HOW they were created. That way, fans have their favorites and get giddy the moment that character is shown or mentioned."
The goal was not to create a glorified tease book. Give the audience enough of a reason to enjoy and get into the world, and allow them full coverage on every character there is.
I then pulled myself away from the computer.
How do I go about that? I now have 43 characters or so, some painted, some sketched, some roughed, some written. I didn't know all of their back stories yet, nor did I know where they were headed in the universe.
I started creating outlines, and let me tell you, those were a life saver.
First, a Table of Contents. I had to have SOME path that I was following, otherwise this would get messy. Once I was confident with that, I then had to determine who WOULD and who WOULDN'T be in the book. I had to cut some good characters, but those will be saved for later. The ones that I did spare, they then went through the rendering process.
I go at designing characters a different way, and I find it to be a lot more helpful. I used to write who I wanted to see first, but then that became too forced.
I'd go for a lot of walks, listen to music and just zone the hell out. I always trust my gut, so I would just ask myself "What do you want to see?"
Well, I love sharks. I love robots. I love zombies. I love samurais. I love sci-fi, cyberpunk, fantasy and action. I love girls.
Then the characters started forming from simple ideas. Mostly visual thoughts. I still remember where I came up with Hex. Was walking down Lincoln, in Santa Monica, listening to the Thin Red Line soundtrack, and it just hit me. "A man with a glass body, with the universe trapped inside. I think that'd be cool."
When I had a good enough thought of what I wanted to draw, once again, having no backstory for them, I then went to the drawing board.
After months of rendering out these characters, I began developing the story while doing so. Adding simple details added great background history.
For example, The Father, a redneck mercenary/bounty hunter, had a string of ears around his neck. I just thought it'd be gross/goofy, but when I wrote the backstory it became part of his quest to becoming who he was, and those that damned him. Also plays an important role in the series, and a very violent 'flashback'.
Or Abaddon's lust for a religious cult of assassins.
Abel's hip-hop fame and success story.
Noa's crossed out police department logo on her armor, as she's gone renegade.
Tons of little things I designed on them, allowed me to venture more into the history of who these people were. And once I had that, I wrote them up one by one.
Now, this played an even larger part in the actual book, as each one of these 40-sum characters had a two page spread, explaining and showing who they were. And now with a full backstory, and art, I knew my character like the back of my hand and was able to add even more details, faux advertisements, weapon bios, character sheets, and more to those pages.
At this point, I was feeling very confident with what I had. But then one day, it hit me pretty hard.
What if this entire thing is just a big dumb idea? What if people don't like this? What if the approach is wrong? I've never done this before, what am I doing?
And that's where the stress and self doubt came in. And I still had two years to go.
(Cont. Part 6: [link]