2016 in Preview: Symptoms

Last month I talked a bit about a new series I have in the pipeline, detailing the process which will soon lead to me unleashing the wacky science action/comedy Edison #1 (with Giovanni Capurro and Andrew Pate) on the public. (Read that here.) And while new miniseries are fun and whatnot, I wanted to spotlight a short story which will see release later this year.

I try to be selective with my anthology submissions. There are a ton out there, but you don’t want to over-saturate the market or take up real estate where other creators may be able to shine. I like to pitch or submit to collections that have a cool idea/theme, talented creators involved or are backed by a good publisher. All three? Even better.

2015 saw my work published in two anthologies — the Li’l Kaiju antho from GrayHaven Comics, where my short Monster Day (with Randy Z. Ochoa and Jeremy Treece) was the lead story, and the Lost In Space antho from Titan Comics, where my short Adrift (with artist Alex Diotto) also served as lead.

While both collections were very cool, I wanted to seek out an opportunity to do something that was a little more… how do you say… ballsy.

Enter Symptoms.

Symptoms1

Though I’ve sort of pigeon-holed myself over the past few years as the “funny guy” (which I’m proud of… and is infinitely better than being called the “funny-looking guy”) I like to step outside the box when Mercury is in retrograde and the mood strikes.

Running across a superhero-themed anthology online, I was immediately struck with a vivid idea. Normally I steer as far away from superheroics as possible, as those types of stories seem futile when going up against the established heavyweights that Marvel and DC have to offer. But to build a world, a hero and a different perspective across just a few pages? Irresistible.

It’s like jumping into an icy cold lake, then climbing back out and running inside where it’s warm and there’s hot chocolate waiting. With mini marshmallows. You did it once and survived… so maybe don’t tempt fate.

I had my idea… my take… my view…

I didn’t want to be saving damsels in distress with my story. I didn’t want to pull cats out of trees. I didn’t want a nerdy kid to be emotionally scarred with a distorted definition of responsibility when his uncle dies.

Symptoms is about a hero who finds himself losing his powers.

I wanted to explore what thoughts that might trigger inside the brain of someone who goes from powerful to powerless. From top banana to bottom water chestnut. From extraordinary to ordinary.

I went on an artist hunt, talking with several talented people hungry to collaborate, but the search was over as soon as I met Kansas-dwelling Graeham Jarvis, the artist and author of the popular InstaGram webcomic Wasteland Tales, based on the lore of the Fallout video game series (which I regretfully know nothing about, but I know talent when I see it).

With more than 4,000 readers visiting his feed daily I felt bad asking him to focus his energies elsewhere for a hot minute, but his art was too good and too perfect for what I had in mind. Plus, he was looking for a chance to stretch his wings a bit. How could I say no when he offered to draw the story?

Symptoms2

After jamming out some sketches of giant robots and superhero costumes (necessities), Graeham dove in and delivered a short that punched me in the gut and didn’t apologize afterwards. Since the proposed anthology is black and white, a wash of gray set the tone and we were off to the races. Graeham’s work conveyed the exact vibe I was hoping to present and stuck what I thought could be a tricky ending, leaving the reader to consider the story long after the pages were turned.

We submitted to the anthology several weeks ago and got a rather quick letter of acceptance. I’m pretty sure this is going to be Graeham’s first officially published work. Needless to say, I’m stoked for him. Hopefully we’ll get to high five one day at a comic convention.

I’m jazzed for people to read Symptoms, see Graeham’s art, and I look forward to reading the other shorts chosen for the book. It’s gonna be super.

Stay tuned. This one drops in November.

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