How I Fell into Writing a Graphic Novel

(Achtung!: The beginning of this blog may seem bleak for avid comic fans.)

Comic books, didn’t like ’em.

As a matter of fact I’d go as far as to say I actually hated them. My two older brothers on the other hand not only loved them but were obsessed with them.

Now I know, obsession can be a strong term to use, but if I’m on vacation in Florida and instead of digging my toes in the sand at the beach my brothers land me in a stuffy, old newspaper smelling comic book store for three hours against my will, I’d call that an obsession or possibly even abduction.  Regardless, it definitely wasn’t the happiest place for me to spend a Wednesday afternoon on vacation, that’s for sure.

Even when we were home, my brothers wouldn’t even look at me for hours, much less play with me.  Why, because they were pretending to be superheroes, talking about superheroes or reading about superheroes.

As a matter of fact, I blame some of my own oddities (past and present) on comic books.  Not sure if it’s because my brothers heavily infested my life with comics or because I actually made it a point to avoid comics, either way comics made an impact and were destined to be a part of my life whether I liked it or not.

Fast forward some twenty years or so later and I find myself sitting at my desk that is covered with notes (the desk itself since I often handwrite notes directly on my desk), an array of sketches and panel layouts.

Looking at my organized mess I wondered how I ended up putting so much energy and effort into something I loathed so much as a child.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit to making mistakes but I can’t really say disliking comics was a mistake.  Rather, disliking them became a motivator for me to delve deeper into the trade and figure out what comics are really all about.

I’m not going to lie; it took me a very long time to figure out and only after research, letting my guard down and putting my ego aside I admittedly realized that comic books are not just a bunch of juvenile fluff.

As a matter of fact, comic books are far more than that or at least they can be.

After completing a BFA and later a MA in Counseling, I decided to try my hand at writing Young Adult fiction, short stories and children’s picture books full time.  Don’t get me wrong, I really love counseling and illustrating, however, there comes a time in a person’s life to explore and follow through with other options and well that time, for me, has arrived.

Fortunately, having close contact with the creator of Jabal Entertainment my life was not only surrounded by comic book fans but the actual process of producing them.

I was intrigued by the fact that so many people were heavily involved in one issue.  Authors, script assists, art directors, artists, editors, character designers, colorists, and letterists, to name a few, all leave their mark in one book coexisting peacefully to produce a beautifully illustrated and written piece of storytelling.

The respect I gained from that alone was enough to inspire me to try my hand at scripting an issue or two. Two issues into a series I created and I was sold.

This condensed yet detailed way of storytelling was so much more than simply writing a story. Scripting a comic is like directing the lives of fictitious characters into a world that is completely fabricated yet can be totally real. It’s an opportunity to create characters that are not only fantasy driven but at the same time could be your next door neighbor, your best friend, your enemy, a family member, a stranger you saw on the street or even you. It’s a chance to take the emotions and feelings from your own or other’s lives and project them into a world that you wish did or even didn’t exist. Scripting a comic is an art, a creative venue to tap into the many conflicts and resolutions that are strewn about in our world, a venue that can be used as an outlet for those who need a break away from reality and depending on the story even an opportunity for those who want to connect more deeply.

Bottom line, comic books are like any other medium of art. And like with any form of art it’s the creators behind the work that make the work shine. It’s the creators that breathe life into a world that doesn’t exist. It’s the creators that create a sense of emotion and connection with the characters that you miss at the end of each issue and can’t wait to see again when the next issue is out.

So, when I was approached to co-create (with Jinnrise creator Sohaib Awan), script and art direct Jabal Entertainment’s newest series, Blades of Hope, to be released in mid-2014 I was sold!

That being said, my first two self-created issues may never hit the shelves or the public eye but I will always cherish them for helping me open my eyes into the  talented world of comic books and graphic novels.

After all, it’s not the medium of art itself but rather how it’s used that matters.