My story has had many different flows over the years I have slowly worked it out. It started in the middle and worked it's way backward. It's heavily relied on flashbacks. And at one part, it ignored telling the origin at all, jumping right into the main story. Trust me, I've reordered and added so much as I arrived on the finished product.
I was always afraid of a 1,2, 3 type of story. No matter how many times I worked the story out, I felt like it was presenting it too plainly, no twist and turns like a lot of modern audiences seem to like. But it always felt the most right despite my apprehension. The flashback version was heavy in drama and those moments flashback stories are infamous for (WATCHMEN, LOST anyone?) While that version was the closest I came to using, it was my friend Roland, that suggested I should let the story establish the elements I wanted to let the flashbacks rely on. Let the characters tell the story opposed to stopping and doing a flashback. Made me rethink a few things.
It was then, I decided on a person retelling a story told to him and then those parts he lived himself. He would be telling this in some point of a present I would catch up to. It seemed the best way to fill in cracks of the art and points I wanted the humanity and character traits to come out. By the time I introduce the Tommy that is narrating the story, I wanted you to know him pretty well. So that when the story caught up to him you're along the ride with him.
Probably the biggest influences on this manner of narration was the Grendel books I grew up on (read them too young, and yes, I actually did have a white streak in my hair). Matt Wagner wrote them from a novel approach of memoirs or journalling. I thought it was a good way of telling a story in the past while allowing me to speak from a present point of view. Also, took that style example from Kurt Busiek from his multiple uses of it in MARVELS and of course, ASTRO CITY.
I'm no where as good in using the style, but I'm attempting. It's really feels like a good match in the type of story I'm telling. And I'm letting it tell it to me. I'm just as much a part of the ride as you are. A lot of the books on the shelf nowadays are amazing works of fiction. I can't compete with that. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel like a lot of them are attempting to do. My goal is making this group of characters feel real and familiar. I work from character and the plot, while important, comes in secondary. I know where they're going but they might suggest other paths as I go. The Doc character has always been an very important part of the story. But the way I am telling it, he made me throw him into the background. He's not a spotlight type of character. You'll see him, and in fact, you actually have seen him in one panel if you put all the clues together (not a mystery, just trying to throw subliminals out there),
Kinda scary when I think about it. And while, yeah, I am using a type of 1, 2, 3 storytelling, it's an origin. There are surprises along the way (tried really hard on the Colonel bit). And wait till you see who the tall fellow next to the Colonel is on the cover of Issue #3. It's surprising to me when I start to ask my own questions about how these characters would react to certain situations, the story materializes.
Just one of the many unexpected joys of finally getting this story out. Thanks for going along for the ride,
A lifelong comics fan, Mike W. Belcher is the writer/artist of MAN IN THE MASK. A story he's had with him for over 20 years.