A year in Innovation

Milestones are always fun. Today I get to celebrate one!

In November of 2013 I launched my black and white sci-fi webcomic project, INNOVATION and today I’m celebrating the 60+ pages of free comics that myself and a whole slew of talented artists have brought to the internet.

INNOVATION is the story of what happens when scientists at a Google-esque facility begin innovating our world…whether we want them to or not. As technology advances toward flawless operation in the fields of robotics, physics and quantum mechanics, the only thing that can’t be counted on are the humans who created it.

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The project received a shot of adrenaline to the heart in July of 2013 after I had written five short stories. These stories, while all separate, leaned toward the world of sci-fi in genre and each had a fun twist at the end. There was a moment where I decided to tie them all together and create a small universe of my own design. I took these stories, Curiosity, Intelligence, By Design, Compliance and another that, believe it or not, has yet to be drawn by an artist and created the connective tissue of Radical Development Scientific Laboratories, Inc. (R.D.S.L.) to tie them together.

There I was with five stories that stood alone but also interconnected creating a larger mythos in the background. From there I decided, based on those initial comics, which characters would best tell the story and begin writing each of their arcs while they intertwined with one another on occasion. The goal was that each 4-6 page short comic could be its own standalone sci-fi tale, but if someone hunkered down and read them all, they’d get a much larger tale. Because I planned to work with a different artist on each short, I made the decision to run the strips in a non-linear fashion. This forced me to ensure that each story was self-contained and gave me a major “moment” to work toward at the end of each comic. This isn’t rocket science, I know…but simply an interesting gestation process.

Inn1

As the shorts were drawn I started creating a reference library so incoming artists would have character and location designs to work with in order for everything to have a consistent look. For artists who hoped to one day work on licensed, pre-existing characters, I figured this was a great place for them to test their chops.

At first glance, the world of INNOVATION can look confusing, but what I’m hoping for (and I know this can be asking a lot) is for readers to begin putting the puzzle pieces into place as they read the comic, figuring out the timelines and identifying where the beginning and ending are. I think of Innovation like this:

We have a handful of characters that we established early on in our series including the robot, Sondra, who is struggling with some serious personality issues, R.D.S.L. CEO Edison Kircher, his right hand man, Mr. Faust, the mischievous android Cygnus, the lowly lab rat Lee and a mysterious guest to the facility that I’m calling The Visitor.

In my brain I think of all the characters in a line, as seen in the scientifically-accurate design below.

InnMap1

 

From there, a thread extends from each character that goes backward and forward in time (because our story is non-linear).

InnMap2

Wherever those threads happen to intersect, that’s where our little sci-fi stories take place.

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I figured that if media-lovers are giving more of themselves to long and drawn out mystery shows, then this webcomic might scratch a similar itch. After all, people watched LOST on TV for, like, six years. (They only liked it for four years, but that’s beside the point.)

What’s INNOVATION about?

Admittedly, at first glance, it might be difficult to pick up on what the series is actually about. That’s kind of a loaded question, really. Every character has a goal (whether those are clear yet or not) and everyone has somewhere they started and somewhere they will end up. Throughout the shorts there are various items that all show up and will all be equally important as we race toward the story’s conclusion.

At it’s heart, Innovation is about technological advancement. In our real world we’ve seen a huge leap forward in the world’s technology in the past 5-10 years. And as we’ve learned throughout history, science can be used for good or bad. A drone aircraft can collect or deliver information and intelligence, and just as easily drop a bomb. It’s all in how we as a world use these breakthroughs and advances.

Ultimately, once the first story arc is complete, I plan to collect it into a PDF where readers can view the entire story in order and then they’ll say, “Oooooh! I get it.”

Is it possible to get it without reading it in order? You better believe it. (I’ve spent hours on maps and diagrams that prove to me this is true.)

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While I planned for the story to run indefinitely, I didn’t want to meander too long, so I’ve chosen an end point for the first arc. While future stories are currently planned, the project requires a steady stream of artistic contributors and those who might be interested in participating with a 4-6 page short to keep the story going are encouraged to get in touch. The first arc will run somewhere between 26-30 chapters, so in our first year, we reached the halfway mark, and I think that’s pretty awesome.

A huge thank you goes out to the artists who have already contributed to the project: Mike Hatfield, Stan ChouDamon Threet, Ken Perry, Crisuadi Crasmaru, Jay Hernandez, Paul McCallan, and Harpreet Brar.

If you’re unfamiliar with this comic and for some reason you’ve read this far, I hope it piques your interest. For a full list of INNOVATION chapters, click here or on the image below. If you have been following along with our scientific exploits, thank you. There’s more to come.

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