Let me explain.
Anyone who has followed my progress in this comic journey, has read my thoughts on the story of Man in the Mask. So I won’t recover that ground. This is more on the actual production, the work of it.
All I have ever wanted to do, is make comics. From the age of 11 or 12, it’s what I wanted to do with my life. First by working on a big mainstream title, but then wanting to create my own stuff as I grew older. Unfortunately, I let a lot of stuff weigh me down and for a good majority of my life, I put those dreams on the back burner.
The idea of Man in the Mask came to me in 1996. I toiled away for years on the story and approach, but just kept getting personal blocks to it’s basic construction. It wouldn’t be until both hitting 40 and Aiden’s very sincere offer to help me make it real, that I would seriously try to accomplish my dream. Some 15 years after coming up with it.
Why a graphic novel? I had never done a full comic before and here I was diving in the deep end. I’m a guy of the 1980s. I saw a lot of Indy comics come and then disappear. I didn’t want anyone to get a number 1 from me and never see a second issue. The graphic novel approach would be my promise to myself to not only start the story, but to finish it.
And then, that would be that.
I felt that I was getting a second chance and quite frankly I wasn’t going to be so arrogant to go any further.
Anyone that has bought the book (and THANK YOU for that) probably notices that it reads a little odd for the introduction of a masked hero. There’s action, but it’s kind of wordy. You have to understand that me at that point of my life wasn’t trying to set the stage. I was just happy telling a story.
It has it’s flaws. It’s expected because I had never done anything like it before. The pacing is odd in a few places. A lot of the scenes had been constructed purely in my head for years. But I wanted to do a rather quick (even within 120 pages) telling of both Tommy, his grandfather and their lives both masked and unmasked. It’s meant to be personal. It’s meant to be uneven and chaotic sometimes. Life isn’t a straight line and neither is this book.
I wanted to show how up and down even the most fervent person can be in their lives. I can’t relate to you how being a kid from Krypton is really. But you might relate to a guy that has issues with his dad and how that affects his life. Or, how the idea of taking on someone else’s dreams might seem cool at nine, but by the time 18 comes around, you could have another perspective.
It’s a story of humanity. And because of that, it does stand on it’s own. It was supposed to without necessarily, what comes next. The end can be both the culmination of the hero’s journey or setting the stage for something else. I got lucky on that.
I had foolishly released chapters as comics over the period of work and tried selling them, going against my edict of a whole story. Shouldn’t have done it. But it did bring me some feedback from readers who liked what they saw. Originally when I got to the end of the final page of the graphic novel, originally it said “The End.” It was that positive feedback from fellow comic lovers, that I would change it to “The Beginning.”
That was a pretty long winded explanation of why the graphic novel is so much more off in tone than the stories that came after. Much like Tommy in the story is unburdened with some things, so was I. Every story I’ve done since, and there’s now six of them, comes from a place of love and appreciation of what I’ve built. Emerging from the Shadow purged a lot of demons off my back. It allowed me to go forward when I was certainly standing still. And because of that, a lot of good has come from it. Despite it’s flaws, it’s still my proudest literary creation. May not be my favorite now, but that’s a good thing.