When I was in college, I did a comic strip three times a week for the newspaper, The Utah Statesman. Ag-gravation provided me with a great outlet to vent my frustrations about school, work, and transitioning into adulthood in general. A few years after I’d graduated, in 2006, I decided that I wanted to create something new, but with a larger scope, an epic story. Webcomics were still sort of a new thing, and I wanted to hop on the bandwagon. I created an outline for a fun, all-ages science fiction story, got out my pen, drew a comic, colored it in MS Paint, found a webcomic host, and Cooties was born.
I had no idea what I was doing. I knew how I wanted it to end, but I wasn’t sure how I would get there. I had no idea it would take nine years to get through that first story. There were many times when I thought I should just give up and get it out of my life. Another incomplete project. I’ve got whole binders full of those. I can’t even count how many of these comics were completed at 2am the day they were supposed to be online. I wasn’t getting paid for this, my readership was tiny, and I would much rather have been sleeping than creating.
But every once in while, one of you would comment or email me about how much you loved it, how you couldn’t wait for the next one. Some of you came late to the game and read my entire archive to that point over a couple days, leaving comments all along the way, and I just couldn’t give up on you! All of you who have reached out to me over the years are the reason I have come this far. I’m sure it would seem dumb to most people, but the fact that Episode 1 is finished, a complete work, is such a huge accomplishment for me. And I have you to thank for it.
So what now?
A few of you have asked me if I’m going to continue creating Cooties. Now would be an ideal stopping point, after all. I’ve devoted almost ten years of my life to it, and I’ve learned a lot, mostly about how NOT to go about making a webcomic. And I have other projects I want to work on. In fact, I’ve already enrolled in Will Terry’s Society of Visual Storytelling courses, and I am going to spend 2016 learning how to paint digitally, creating a portfolio, and self-publishing a children’s book. I’m writing a graphic novel unrelated to Cooties that I’ll spend 2017 drawing, as well. Can I even fit Cooties into my life anymore? Do I even want to?
The answers are Yes, and Oh Lord Yes. Cooties is still my baby, and it’s time for it to grow up a little. I’m going to continue this comic in a way where I control it, not the other way around. No more 2am deadline crunching.
First, though, I’m taking a few weeks off. I have freaking deserved it. So there’s that.
Second, Cooties will be changing primarily into a short gag strip (a la Sheldon or Chainsawsuit) instead of a long form comic telling a giant story over the course of years. Right now, plans will be to keep it once a week; once I figure out a workflow that suits it best, it may be more frequent. There are a few things that will factor into it. If a thrice-weekly black & white comic is a better fit than a weekly colored one, I may go that route. I haven’t decided yet.
Third, while I’m doing all this, I will be silently working on Episode 2
in my underground lair in my spare time. We’ve still got to deal with getting Chen’s consciousness out of Jake’s head, after all. It’ll be a 24-esque fast-paced action caper and stuff. During a school dance. And it won’t take 9 years to make. It will be more professionally done. I won’t post any of it until the whole thing is complete, and I can post chunks of it at a time for a better reading experience over the course of a couple months instead of a decade! I don’t know if it will see the light of day before 2018; in the meantime, you can enjoy the less story-laden newspaper-strip style. My long game vision for Cooties is for it to be a gag strip, while every other year or so having a graphic novel style season finale kind of thing.
Long story short, Cooties will continue. And I think in the long run it will be a better comic. I can’t thank all of you enough for staying the course with me, encouraging me along the way. All of you who have taken the time to comment or email me, the fact that I’ve come this far is because of you. Thank you. Stay tuned, and stay in the loop by liking the Facebook page or subscribing to my RSS feed. I’ll be back soon!
I have to apologize for the lack of updates lately. I’ve been busy preparing to table at Salt Lake Comic Con this week. The majority of my free time for the past month has been devoted to creating a print of almost 40 Marvel characters from the Marvel Studios movies, as well as a bit of freelance work, and Cooties unfortunately took a backseat. I thought I’d be able to have a comic up for tomorrow; however, there are a lot of little things I still need to do to prepare. And frankly, I’m just exhausted.
After this next week, though, Cooties will be the only thing on my plate. I’ve got just about 20 pages left to finish Infestation, and I want to have the whole thing done and posted before the holidays. I will therefore be updating the comic twice a week in order to do this, starting a week from tomorrow! A nine-year effort will finally be coming to fruition for me.
This started out as a silly experiment in creating comics for the web, and the scope of the story ended up being a lot more than I thought it would. I have learned a lot from the many, many mistakes I have made through the process of creating this, and I plan to make some changes. But that’s a topic I will come back to at the end of the year.
In the meantime, if any of you are in the Salt Lake area, I hope to see you this Thursday, Friday or Saturday! I will be selling print editions of issues 1 & 2 of Cooties; these are re-colored, re-lettered versions from what you see on the site, along with a few reworked punchlines and such! I will be doing original art commissions, and selling 11″ x 17″ prints of my Marvel Cinematic Universe pic, seen below. I’ll be at booth Light Blue 28 in Artist Alley!
A recent update called for a stampede of alien creatures:
I contemplated a few options for the double-page spread; did I want to borrow from some science fiction movies and have some Easter Eggs? Use characters from other webcomics as shout-outs to my friends? I decided the best option would be to take a look through my 15-year-old son Nate’s drawings, and pick some from his artwork. He is definitely my son; he draws constantly, and I am always amazed at his creativity. I thought this would also be a good opportunity to share his work with you all as well! Here are his original drawings from which I
stole was inspired, along with some others that gave me a chuckle. Enjoy!